From Graduate to The Grand Appeal

I felt terrified on my first day. It wasn’t my first job as a graduate; it was my first job ever.

I had the experience in coding from my Computer Science degree at the University of Lincoln, and I wanted to start a career in digital project management. To have lots of people interaction but still have the tech going on around me.

But there weren’t any grad jobs around, and everyone wanted loads of experience. However, I was determined, and I liked the look of Torchbox so I emailed them. It was good to see the mix of backgrounds people came from on the team page and to see there was a good number of girls for a tech company. Ellen Haggan interviewed me; she could see I was serious and had the tech knowledge I would need. Ellen became my mentor.

My first day was a Wednesday which is company lunch day, so I got to talk to everyone and meet the team, who were lovely. In the beginning, I shadowed Ellen a lot and I got introduced to how everything works gradually, so I wasn’t ever overwhelmed. And as I took on work, I always felt supported.

Abigail at blavatnik

You could climb the ladder, but a sweeping staircase at Oxford University is much better.

Blavatnik School of Government is part of Oxford University and was my first project. I went to a chemistry meeting with Paul Vetch who pitched the project. Then I got involved in the kick-off meeting and managing timelines, people and budgets. My first project as project management lead is The Grand Appeal, which I’m working on now.

The Grand Appeal, aka Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, has raised over £50 million to support sick children and their families at Bristol Children’s Hospital. This hospital serves the largest geographical area of any children’s hospital in England.

We’re in the build phase, and everything’s going really well. It’s a fixed price, fixed scope project but we are running it using two-week timeboxes, which helps us to plan and release on a regular schedule and carefully track our rate of development.

Our team meet on a Monday to plan for the week and present back to The Grand Appeal on Friday; they can see the progress and stay in touch with development. As part of this process I run retros, this is where we invite the team to feedback and improve processes and outputs on the following timebox. The Grand Appeal are fantastic clients; their work inspires me to make sure I’m doing my best and managing the development team well.

I still have a lot to learn, but essentially I’ve learnt how to be a project manager, and I couldn’t have asked for a better company. Advice is always available, and everyone’s really friendly and willing to help. I know how beneficial mentoring has been to me, and in the future, I’d like to do that for someone else. Now I feel really comfortable, and I look forward to coming to work.

Torchbox offers internships and graduate roles, if you’d like to join the team, contact us and tell us why we’d be crazy not to invite you for an interview.